Scientific Breakthrough Could Ease Knee Pain

Indiana Hospital Enrolling Patients In Study

For Mike Mattingly, there's nothing like a trot around the track with Genuine Mattjic, a thoroughbred he's exercising for an upcoming race in New Jersey.

"I like feeling the power of the horse out there, just being out," Mattingly said.

But a bum knee threatened to end Mattingly's equine endeavors.

"Little bit of knocking and popping," he said.

And there was a lot of pain.

"I started having it where it would lock up on me," he said.

A focal lesion or pre-arthritic defect on the articular cartilage of Mike's right knee was to blame. Such defects are caused by genetics, weight, alignment issues and injuries.

To fix the problem, Mike became one of the first in the country to receive a DeNovo NT Graft.

Natural donor tissue was taken from juvenile human cartilage donor tissue. It was minced into tiny pieces and placed into a sticky bio-glue and then implanted into the defect.

Dr. Jack Farr with Ortho Indy in Indianapolis told 6News Staying Healthy reporter Stacia Matthews that the operation is like fixing potholes.

"This is not arthritis, so we're not trying to repave a road. We're having a pothole in the road and we're trying to repair it," Farr said.

The hope is that over time the cartilage will repair itself. This would help restore knee function, reduce pain and produce a healthy cartilage surface so that patients can return to normal activities.

And if the study proves successful, this scientific breakthrough could last a lifetime and ultimately prevent arthritis.

"That's the $64,000 question. That's everyone's goal," Farr said.

A more common treatment for patients with cartilage defects includes two operations. In the first surgery, doctors remove a small amount of existing healthy cells from the patient. That biopsy is sent to a Massachusetts laboratory where the cells are cultured into millions of cells.

The second procedure involves implanting those cultured cells into the knee.

But the DeNovo NT requires only one surgery, and patients are allowed to return home the same day. Healing takes about six months.

Three months have passed since Mattingly's DeNovo NT surgery. He is looking forward to becoming pain free and harnessing a win at the upcoming Meadowlands Racetrack next month.

After an invigorating ride, Mattingly is able to club out of the buggy without help.

“My knee feels good, real good. It's getting better every day," he said.

Ortho Indy is currently enrolling patients in the DeNovo NT Graft Clinical Study, sponsored by Zimmer Inc., in collaboration with ISTO Technologies Inc.

To participate, you must be between 18 to 55 years old and experiencing knee pain. To learn more about it call 317-884-5358.